Black Excellence: 5 Books to Read On Your Way to Essence 2019

As we gather to celebrate the silver year anniversary of the Essence Festival, we have to acknowledge the level of Black Girl Magic that will grace this year’s stage. Loni Love, Missy, Elliott, Mary J. Blige, are just some of the women who have made strides and opened doors for so many young women behind them.

We’ve been inspired by the Essence Fest 2019 lineup to compile a list of books authored by black women;  to empower, elevate the culture forward, and ignite the black girl magic in you.

On your next vacation, we challenge you to put down your phone and pick up a book that will feed your soul!


1 | The Sister’s Are Alright

Author: Tamara Winfrey Harris

The Sisters Are Alright exposes anti-black-woman propaganda and shows how real black women are pushing back against distorted cartoon versions of themselves. Tamara Winfrey Harris delves into marriage, motherhood, health, sexuality, beauty, and more, taking sharp aim at pervasive stereotypes about black women. She counters warped prejudices with the straight-up truth about being a black woman in America. "We have facets like diamonds," she writes, "The trouble is the people who refuse to see us sparkling."

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2 | Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. If you haven’t already read Becoming, pack it in your carry on!


3 | It Was All A Dream: A New Generation Confronts The Broken Promise To Black America

Author: Reniqua Allen

Reniqua Allen investigates this in It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America, in which she illuminates the stories of black millennials searching for success amid a racist system designed for them to fail. The book takes a hopeful position, however, and shares the innovative ways young black people are surviving and thriving despite the challenges they face.

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4 | The World According to Fannie Davis:
My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers

This novel recounts Fannie Davis’ life as a mother, wife, “part bookie and a part banker.” The memoir paints the picture of a woman making a way out of no way and doing what she has to in order to make a life for her and her children. It's a testament to the resilience of black women and so suspenseful, it feels like fiction.


5 | The Source of Self-Regard

The mother of all black women Literature, Toni Morrison, has blessed us with another book! And not just any book, but a nonfiction collection of her essays, speeches, and meditations spanning the past four decades called The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditation. She offers commentary on her own work and that of others while also taking on social issues like female empowerment, "black matter(s)," and human rights.


Still need to book your hotel for Essence Festival? We have rooms available just 0.2 miles from the festival.